I hardly ever think of consequences. Not even if they seem blindingly obvious: skydiving. Diving – in the sky. Hell yeah, I’ll do it!
Still with sleep in my eyes I find myself kneeling in a Wollongong park on a sunny Sunday morning dressed in a blue jumpsuit, learning about how to get sucked out of a plane; head back, arms crossed, tap on shoulder means hands out, then arch back, or – fuck – was it arch first, then cross?). One of the instructors mumbles something about having “a bad feeling” about the day’s jump. I decide it is a skydiver instructor’s way of saying “break a leg”.
I step into the harness, into a van, then into a plane. The plane is being charged with batteries the size of my camera charger and could easily have fitted into the van. I mention the size of the plane to the man I was soon to be strapped to. He said this little ‘beauty’ was new to the game and had only been flying for two days. “Oh, really”, I mumbled, as we took off.
As for adrenalin… this must be the feeling of your heart dancing samba with your bladder.
“Five minutes!”, yells the pilot. This is where I found peace. I came to the conclusion that this would be the best way to go, to say goodbye to the world. I hoped, should all fail, I’d land in the ocean and not be splattered all over the land.
With those thoughts, I actually started to feel an excitement that I’d never ever experienced; something like, fuck it – here we go!
The plastic door slams open and, before I can indulge in any more life philosophies, we are sliding slowly towards the big gaping hole 14,000 feet above the ocean.
There was no “one, two, three, jump”. There was, slide, slide… cross… holy fuck… swooooosh, followed by freefalling at 250km per hour.
Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeefalling. Chin sucked up behind my ears. Screams louder than thoughts. And then after what felt like an eternity in no man’s land, I realised there was a man attached to my back, as he pulled a strap and we rocketed back towards the sun. Then we are gliiiiiiding.
Ahhhhhh – post orgasmic chills. We are floating and circling the dwarfish landscape. Parachute working? Tick. Still alive? Tick. Feeling happier than ever? Big fat tick. Feeling immortal and shouting “I’m the queen of the world”. Tick. We slowly drift towards a cheering crowd, and now I am feeling more alive (with adrenalin) than a nightclub full of Colombia’s finest.
I remember to stick my legs up and we land smoothly on a well patted bum, with a round of applause. Now that’s how you do it. I’m awake now, all right.
The damage: $275 on weekdays (plus $40 off with the advert in this magazine).
The details: Skydive The Beach Sydney are based in Wollongong; Ph: 1300 663 634.
I was enjoying a beer with fish ‘n’ chips at the Opera Bar, as the sunshine danced on Sydney Harbour when, on impulse, it seemed like a good day to get wet and wild in the harbour. Get your minds out of the gutter – I’m talking jetboating.
With Fragma’s “Toca’s Miracle” killing the stereo, wind in my salty wet hair and a tanned hunk behind the jetboat’s steering wheel, my thoughts wandered off to a Greek Island party cruise with Dimitri serving flaming Sambuca shots. But as the Aussie embodiment of Dimitri waved his hand in the air, the boat did a 180-degree turn, threw my body half off the boat (into shark-patrolled waters) and a small tsunami washed off any remaining dreams, and make-up. Following the turn, the jet veered to a halt and we all cheered, although most of the passengers had wet themselves.
Then the boat picked up speed again. I got into a bull-riding position to minimise the effect of the boat jumping over the waves. Feeling like the cops were about to pull us over any time for speeding, I felt sorry for the oh-so-misplaced ‘movie star’ sitting in the back row as her Gucci’s could no longer cover up the steady streams of Dior mascara.
We flew by the Australian Prime Minister’s house in Kirribilli, and the mansion where the Queen stays when she’s in town, as well as Shark Island – so called because there used to be an abattoir there. The sharks digged that island. However, “there has not been an attack here in 40 years,” said the driver. “Although you never see anyone swimming here either,” he added, before the boat once again leaped and I got back into my newfound bull-riding position with a scream of “yeehaaaa”.
Feeling sunburn creeping up my nose and making its way to my forehead, I imagined a wild police chase as we sped under the Harbour Bridge in Miami Vice-style. After an hour of racing on the harbour, I was feeling on top of the world, and by the time I got home I felt like I had won a wet t-shirt competition.
The damage: $55 (for 35 minutes).
The details: Down Under Jet can be found at Circular Quay, Ph: (02) 9838 1025.
Flying is ace – I love it. But, er, normally there’s like a roof to stop everyone falling out and a proper cabin and some cute stewardesses … Gulp.
The Tiger Moth bi-plane looks like the sort Biggles used to fight people in, people with names like Russian Blackbeard. It was previously used to train World War II fighter pilots.
On the Port Macquarie airfield, we don flying jackets, hats and goggles and jump into the open cockpits as the propeller is spun to start the engine. And we’re away…
In flight, the Tiger Moth feels gloriously authentic. Along with the fantastic views and playfully strong winds there’s a very real sense of what it was like for early aviation adventurers – and better still – fighter pilots.
We’re patrolling along the coast and just as I’m about to announce, “Ginger, baddies at three o’clock, dug-a-dug-a-dug-a-dug-dug,” the antique plane starts tilting sideways and upwards. And tilting, and… “Weeeerrraaaaoooooooh.”
We’re upside down, still turning and twisting. And doing all sorts of wrong-way-aroundy things. My stomach feels it’s a good time to remind me it always wanted to be a gymnast. It’s exhilarating, dramatic and unique.
The damage: $160 (for 20 minutes).
The details: Coastwings Australia Ph: (02) 6584 1130
Now these aren’t the wooden crate, pram wheels and string combos of yore. They’re devilish, mean-machine speed-monsters that actually laugh at you if you don’t push them all the way to 100kph. After a safety talk, including something-or-other about “Hell’s corner”, and some unnecessary engine revving that blokes have to do, I speed off with such a ferocious pace I can almost hear Murray Walker going, “And that’s Hall, setting the early pace, with astonishing speed and skill, he really is a magnificent man in every way…”
First lap completed, I look up to see my two competitors, who… are… oh, about half a lap in front.
By lap five I seem to have the hang of it. I was doing 80kph on the straight, slower for the first bend. Round the second. And round. And round. I seem to be spinning. I’m no longer on the track. That’ll be “Hell’s corner” then.
As much as I pressed the pedal to the floor and went “eeeeegghhnnoooww” a lot, I was more Michael Bolton than Michael Schumacher. Gah!
The damage: Karting costs from $30 (for 10 minutes).
The details: Adrenalin Rush Karting are based in Port Macquarie Ph: (02) 6586 3555
Still Want More?
The New South Wales coast is packed with adrenalin activities. If these adventures haven’t sated your thrill-seeking appetite, we suggest you try paragliding, hanggliding, abseiling/rock climbing, whitewater rafting, whitewater kayaking, surfing, wakeboarding, bungy jumping, diving with sharks (in Manly Aquarium), base jumping or snake chasing. Actually, our lawyers (well, that strange man in the suit at the back of the office) says we can’t strictly recommend you chase lethal snakes or jump off a cliff. But, go on – it’d be fun (for us to watch you die).